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give us your email please...

As an IT professional my email inbox is constantly inundated by offers, white papers and seminar invitations to various sponsored events wishing to sell one thing or another under the guise of doing my business a favor. I usually skim and delete the messages that aren't relevant to my business focus or that I otherwise don't find interesting. Today I received a ZiffDavis letter filled with sponsored white papers , now I've signed up to ZiffDavis events before but I can almost swear that my account information goes kaput every few months. I was about to just delete the message but then noticed a white paper that was relevant to my business and grudgingly slicked the disengenuously titled "download now" button.

As I was expecting that action took me to another page where I was instructed to enter my email address. Okay, no problem I have several email addresses to fill up with the junk that you eventually receive when you sign up for these papers and used one. Now you would expect the next step to be the download starting but you'd be wrong, another page presented itself this one filled with empty form fields for me to provide incredible details about myself that have absolutely NOTHING to do with my downloading the paper. I wonder why companies feel the need to be so sneaky in trying to get my information? I've encountered this type of activity from various forms and sites for over 10 years now and every time I get pissed off and usually terminate the browser window on the spot. They miss out on a prospective customer or viewer of their service because they are insulting my intelligence, and I won't accept it from corporations. I've noticed that this is a common practice in online sites, for example many sites state you only have to provide your email address and then after you do that send you a page or two more of account details to add before you are given a free account it is to me a sign of a bad business relationship and not something I would ever do to a prospective customer. Say what you mean and mean what you say, will get you the loyalty of visitors who know that you aren't trying to trick them into giving information. In my consumer site design currently under way, all that is needed to create a new account is an email address and confirmation via live verification using a Turing image, everything else can be provided at the users leisure AFTER they have an active account. In my site the account is activated by clicking on the email sent to the provided email account, a dead simple process as it should be. Most non techies using a computer are fearful of clicking the wrong icon and crashing a computer, they are far less sophisticated on average than most web designers so making things as easy for them as possible is imperative to getting them to create accounts and then later spread the news to their friends and colleagues about just how great your service is!! So moral of the story, in your designs don't insult the intelligence of your users and make sign up as minimal as possible.

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